During fast-moving veto session, the BGA, Attorney General, press advocates and public interest groups pressured lawmakers to derail a faulty Freedom of Information bill.

By the BGA

A controversial bill that critics argued would greatly damage Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act died this week in the General Assembly after state lawmakers refused to advance it amid a growing public outcry opposing the measure.

The BGA participated in an intense lobbying and public awareness campaign to scuttle SB 2799, which included an anti-FOIA amendment that was sponsored by State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie.

The amended SB 2799 ignited a firestorm of protests from the Illinois Attorney General, the Illinois Press Association, the Citizen Advocacy Center and other pro-disclosure groups. Moreover, local newspapers throughout the state also wrote editorials against passing SB 2799 including the Chicago Tribune, State Journal Register and The Times of Northwest Indiana.

SB 2799 was never heard in committee nor advanced to the full House for a vote before adjournment.

However it’s possible another such bad FOIA bill could resurface when the General Assembly reconvenes next month.

The BGA and other pro-FOIA forces have vowed to be vigilant and are poised to fight any new version of SB 2799 or any other anti-disclosure bills that hinder the public’s right to access taxpayer-owned records.

The BGA’s opposition to SB 2799 is outlined here.

The BGA this week also encouraged its members to contact their state representatives and nearly 1,000 emails urging SB 2799’s demise were sent.

“In a matter of days the public was heard and turned it around,” said Judy Stevens, policy coordinator for the BGA. ” FOIA protects the public’s right to know but it takes the public to protect FOIA. Thanks to everyone who contacted their legislators–you are guardians of good government.”